OTR Interviews

Gingrich: Like a good liberal, Pres. Obama wants to punish the people create jobs

GOP presidential candidate sounds off on gas companies continuing to receive large subsidies while prices at the pump rise


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Wisconsin primary battle is only four days away. It's on Tuesday. And Speaker Gingrich is campaigning in the Badger state. That's where we caught up with him.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, nice to see you. And I want to ask, where are you?

NEWT GINGRICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm at Krolls West, directly across the street from Lambeau Field. And you of all people should be here. I think you now -- you're a shareholder, too, like Callista and me, aren't you?

VAN SUSTEREN: I indeed am and I wish I were there. And I'm a little -- I must confess, I'm a little bit jealous. But nonetheless, I'm here in Washington with -- where there's a lot of activity going on.

Let me start first with what happened the other day. The gas prices - - of course, you and I have discussed this before. They are very high. President wanted to cut the tax breaks to some of the big oil companies. The Republicans are opposed to it. Why? Because these are astronomical profits that these companies are having.

GINGRICH: Well, you know, it's very strange. You get more of what you encourage and you get less of what you discourage. Like most good liberals, President Obama wants to punish the people who provide goods and services and create jobs. It seems to be an ideological fixation.

I would like to see us become the leading oil-producing country in the world. The president could do that, if he would. And I'm frankly prepared to incentivize every business that will create jobs.

You know, as of April 1st, the United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, higher than anybody else. And it strikes me as kind of odd that all the liberals who have given us the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression, the highest gasoline prices in history, they just don't seem to get it. They keep wanting to punish the very people we want to encourage. I'd like oil companies out there producing more oil, not less.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't consider it punishment when someone's getting special treatment and a break. I'm not talking about a tax rate. I'm talking about the fact that these oil companies have huge tax -- they get tax breaks that the rest of us can't have any use for or don't get. But let me give you an example.

ExxonMobil, $41.1 billion is their profit, up from 2010 by 35 percent. Here's another one. Shell, $30.9 billion in profit, up 54 percent from 2010.

What in the world do they need tax breaks for? They seem loaded!

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, most of the tax breaks the president's trying to take away don't go to those companies. Most of the tax breaks the president takes away go to the independents, who do 85 or 90 percent of the exploration in the United States.

And you ought to be clear about this. By the way, you'll notice the president's not suggesting that he raise taxes on General Electric, which is a company which paid no taxes in recent years and whose president has been on the president's advisory board. So it's just -- it's kind of highly selective of the president who he wants to pick fights with.

I favor encouraging American companies to develop American oil and gas. I favor getting the price of gasoline down below $2.50 a gallon. You do that by encouraging exploration, encouraging development, encouraging building new refineries, and frankly, by doing things like approving the Keystone pipeline, which the president has vetoed, and encouraging the development of the oil possibilities off of Louisiana and Texas, which the president has stopped, and opening up parts of Alaska, which the president has stopped.

So I have a plan which both creates American jobs, keeps the money here in the United States, and reduces the price of gasoline. The president doesn't do any of those things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'm all in favor of giving incentives to people being competitive. But with the gas price so high, these tax breaks are being paid for by us. We see them in the form, I assume, of higher gas prices. These -- I mean, these are -- these are not tax breaks that are coming out of the president's pocket. They're coming out of the American taxpayer's pocket.

GINGRICH: Well, except the fact is, most -- as I just said, most of the tax breaks you're talking about, in fact, are incentives for independent oil and gas exploration, and that market would dry up without the incentives.

You're asking people to go out and spend a lot of money drilling a hole to see whether or not they can produce oil or gas. We want more people doing that, not less. We want them to produce more resource, not fewer.

And frankly, I think this president just has it exactly backwards. You know, he tells us he wants lower gas prices, then he goes on a war attacking and -- you know, and accusing the very people who produce the gasoline and the natural gas that he's talking about.

And they do this regularly. I mean, they have eight definitely agencies trying to figure out how to stop the natural gas companies from using fracking, which is the technique by which they produce this enormous breakthrough in natural gas, which, by the way, has brought the price of natural gas down from $797 a unit to about $205. If we had the same reduction in gasoline, it would cost $1.13 a gallon.

So I'm in favor of following the same pattern we've had with natural gas, where we've increased production dramatically and we've lowered prices as a consequence.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me go to the question of the sanctions against Iran's central bank. Are these sanctions have any sort of teeth? Are these sort of feckless sanctions in light of the fact that some people are getting waivers? Some countries are getting waivers.

GINGRICH: You know, I don't understand Obama's idea of appeasement and weakness. If you're going to impose a sanction on a bank, how can it be a serious sanction if you waive countries avoiding it? I mean, all you have to do is, as an Iranian, go, OK, I guess I have to change who I call.

So now there -- I think there are 10 countries, if I remember correctly -- there are 10 countries on the list that have been waived, so how can the sanctions have any teeth at all? They're just going to do all their business through those 10 countries.

It strikes me that it's nonsense. If you want serious sanctions, it has to apply to everybody. If you only have partial sanctions, there are no sanctions at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, some of the countries, like Japan and South Korea and India, the State Department has given them relief from this because -- from some of the sanctions because they say they've reduced the demand on Iranian oil. The problem with that is they're going to go get it some other place, and now they're going to jack up the price, so it's going to end up costing us more money at the pump.

GINGRICH: Yes. You know, see -- again, it doesn't make any sense to me. If they want a serious sanction against the central bank, they need to isolate it from the rest of the world financial market. If they're not going to be serious about it, all they're doing is they're being a nuisance, not a threat.

But that's typical of the Obama administration, which seems to do almost everything by half measure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Israel -- what's your thought on now Israel must be responding to the fact that these sanctions -- you know, there -- there are waivers and some people get around them?

GINGRICH: You know, the Israeli government has been saying very clearly they are not going to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon. And from everything I can tell, they have plans that are very serious to do a range of things that may or may not be a bombing campaign, but there'll be a number of things happening, I think probably starting in the not too distant future.

And the Israelis have been very clear about it. They're not going to risk losing their cities and suffering a second Holocaust to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Now, to the degree this president convinces them that he's doing something real, I suspect they'll be more patient. To the degree they think that what he's doing is foolish and weak, I suspect that actually accelerates the timetable for them to do something pretty bold and pretty dangerous.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Can you explain to me why this -- President Obama has submitted a budget. Congressman Paul Ryan has submitted a budget. And the Senate has produced no budget. And it seems to me that everyone needs to produce a budget so that we at least have something on the table to negotiate.

But if the Senate has no budget, it stops the whole process, so it stops everything from going forward, any attempt of negotiations. Can you explain to me -- step out of the political field for a second. Explain to me, why -- what...


VAN SUSTEREN: Why would Senator Harry Reid not want a budget put on the table to at least begin the discussion?

GINGRICH: Well, I think there are two reasons. First of all, I think the Senate has not produced a budget in something like 900 days. So they've gone almost three years now without a budget.

I think what happened was that their budget committee chairman, a Democrat, found out that he couldn't -- literally could not produce a budget. He could not get a majority of the Democrats to agree to bring anything forward, and they just collapsed in failure.

And I think the problem they've got is that the spending cuts that they would need are unacceptable to one wing of the Democratic Party and the tax increases that the liberals want are unacceptable to another wing of the Democratic Party, and so they've simply melted down.

So what you now have is a serious, responsible budget by Paul Ryan, something which is really a remarkable achievement. You have an Obama sort of fantasy wish list budget. And you have nothing from the Senate Democrats.

And I think this will be one of the items which leads the Senate Democrats to be defeated this fall. When I go around the country, I find a very large majority of the American people want us to get back to the kind of balanced budget we had when I was speaker. They're very eager to see us get Washington under control. And the Senate Democrats, in a sense, are eliminating themselves from serious consideration as part of the government.

VAN SUSTEREN: But isn't that sort of part of the job? I mean, I'm not saying that anyone should agree with the Republican budget...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... or the -- or the president's budget, but -- I mean, isn't it sort of in the job description that you actually do your work to help be a steward...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... for our economy and our -- and our government? So I'm having a really hard time understanding how everyone goes off on a two- week vacation right now, and that budget in the Senate -- there's nothing from which anyone can debate or negotiate, agree with or disagree with. It just stops dead.

GINGRICH: Look, a strong president who cared about a balanced budget would call the Senate back into a special session and would say to them, You're not going home until you produce a budget. And they could make it stick. And the country would side with the president.

The average American is going to be very uncomfortable knowing that their Democratic senator, as part of a group, can't even write -- whether it's a good budget or a bad budget, they can't even write a budget. And I think that disqualifies them from contending to try to govern this country. I think it's a very serious mistake on their part.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. And I hope you wander down highway 41 to Appleton.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's only about 25 miles away.

GINGRICH: All right. Come and join us in Green Bay sometime.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will. Thank you, sir.